Federal authorities on Friday charged two suburban Twin Cities men with conspiring to set a Wells Fargo Bank building ablaze in south Minneapolis as riots over George Floyd’s police killing raged in late May.
Both Marc Bell Gonzales, 29, of Wayzata, and Alexander Steven Heil, 24, of Monticello, were charged Friday in a pair of two-page felony information documents, a federal charging mechanism that often signals imminent guilty pleas.
According to charges, the two men gathered with others in south Minneapolis on May 28 and tried to set a fire at the Wells Fargo Bank building at 3030 S. Nicollet Av.
The charging documents offer few details other than to note that Gonzales “knowingly and willfully conspired and agreed” with Heil, identified as A.H., to commit arson. And Gonzales allegedly “poured gasoline onto the bank property for the purpose of accelerating the fire,” the charging document says.
The bank building suffered heavy fire damage as a result, and it became one of nearly 150 buildings set on fire and more than 1,500 locations that experienced property damage in metro communities in the week following Floyd’s death.
Federal prosecutors have charged more than a dozen people — nearly all of them from Minnesota — with arson or riot-related charges in the months since the riots.
The cases have been brought by way of a joint investigation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FBI, the Minneapolis Police Department and the state Fire Marshal Division.
On Friday, the ATF and FBI again called for the public to report any cases of “suspected arson, use of explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the recent unrest.” Anyone with information on fires set at businesses can call the ATF’s TIPS line at 1-888-ATF-TIPS or submit tips anonymously via ReportIt.com. Tips to the FBI can be submitted to 1-800-CALLFBI or by submitting images or videos at FBI.gov/violence.